The 7,000-acre Gold Butterfly forest project has been withdrawn by Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Matt Anderson. The management plan east of Corvallis in the Sapphire Mountains had included commercial and non-commercial timber harvests, thinning and prescribed burning.

In a news release, Anderson said, "I have decided it is in the best interest of the public to withdraw the Record of Decision at this time. Upon further review of the project analysis, we recognized some deficiencies regarding Forest Plan compliance." The project had been opposed by local conservation organizations, with suits filed by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Bitterroot. Both groups applauded the decision, which was announced late last week.

The objectives of the project were to reduce sediment in Willow Creek, improve bull trout habitat, improve forest health and provide forest jobs. Anderson believes those goals are still important, saying, "The Forest staff on the Bitterroot will be reviewing the procedural steps and analysis to date, and we will determine the best path to move the project forward. The Bitterroot National Forest is still committed to completing the important work in this project area." Any further action will involve NEPA and public comment.

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